Posts Tagged ‘sex


PRESS RELEASE: Becoming Dragon, a mixed reality, durational performance in Second Life, opens December 1st


Becoming Dragon, a mixed reality, durational performance in Second Life, opens December 1st

What: Performance in Second Life and at CRCA on the UCSD Campus
When: Beginning December 1st, 7pm, running for 365 hours, viewing hours, 11AM-7PM
Where: The Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), Atkinson Hall, Visiting Artist Lab #1613, UCSD, and in Second Life at
Contact: Micha Cárdenas, mcardenas A+ ucsd (d0T} edu

Becoming Dragon is a mixed reality, durational performance in Second Life, in CRCA’s Visiting Artist Lab #1613 of the Atkinson Hall building, on the UC San Diego campus. The opening begins at 7pm on December 1st, 2008 and the performance will run for 365 hours. The performance is Micha Cárdenas’ final MFA project.

Becoming Dragon questions the one year requirement of Real Life Experience that transgender people must fulfill in order to receive Gender Confirmation Surgery (Sexual Reassignment Surgery), and asks if this could be replaced by one year of Second Life Experience to lead to Species Reassignment Surgery. For the performance, Micha Cárdenas will live for 365 hours immersed in Second Life with a head mounted display, so that all she will see is Second Life and a motion capture system to map her movements into Second Life. The performance space will be open to the public for the duration, during the hours that the building is open, 9am to 7pm. During the entire duration of the performance Micha will stay in the performance space at CRCA and in Second Life.

Second Life is an online 3D virtual world, where users can create their own avatars in whatever form they like. It is not a goal oriented game, so its users refer to it as a metaverse or a MUVE, Multi User Virtual Environment. There are over 15 million registered users of Second Life. More information is available at

The Free Software/Open Source licensing of Second Life also provides a code base for modification, and a number of modifications have been made for Becoming Dragon. Kael Greco has patched the Second Life client to include an updated version of the stereoscopic code from the University of Michigan. For the duration of the performance, Micha Cárdenas will wear a Head Mounted Display (HMD) with stereoscopic display to simulate an actual 3 dimensional experience of Second Life by displaying a different image in each eye.

To further explore becoming as an embodied process and Second Life as a Mixed Reality Performance, Christopher Head has added code to the Second Life viewer to read live motion capture data from the Vicon motion capture system in the performance space. This code, along with scripts in Second Life allow the avatar’s movements to correspond to Micha Cárdenas’ movements. In Second Life, the performance will take place in a to-scale model of the actual performance space, to allow the performer to navigate that space over the duration of the performance.

A number of other modes of Mixed Reality will be included in the performance, including a live video feed from the lab into Second Life and 3D printouts of Second Life objects in the actual performance space. The performance space will also include an HD stereo projection of Second Life which visitors can see and interact with.

The project seeks to explore the shift from subjectivity to becoming, to examine the subject in transition, as opposed to a clearly defined identity. The choice of a dragon for an avatar is related to the history of dragons as magical creatures, able to shapeshift into different forms and teleport through space, well suited to Second Life. Dragons are also part of the large community of non-anthropomorphic avatars in Second Life, which are not easily limited to either male or female binary gender categories. The project seeks to explore the possibility for using mixed reality environments to construct new genders outside of the limitations of the male/female spectrum.

The performance is one stage of an ongoing investigation of the transformative potential of technology, inspired by artists such as Orlan and Stelarc. During the year of research and development of this project, Micha Cárdenas has begun her real life hormone replacement therapy and has been writing poetry and prose about the experience on her blog, This writing will be included in the performance of Becoming Dragon.

Second Life is being used as a networked, mixed reality platform. The massively multi-user nature of Second Life, with over a million users, allows an exploration of online public space, becoming as a process of social feedback and the subject in transition as the subject in transmission.

Becoming Dragon is receiving support from the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, CalIT2, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, Ars Virtua, the gallery@calit2, the b.a.n.g. lab and the Embodied Cognition Lab of the cognitive Science Department.

Artist Bios

Micha Cárdenas is an MFA candidate at the University of California San Diego. Micha holds a Master’s degree in Media and Communications with distinction from the European Graduate School and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Florida International University. She is a researcher at CalIT2 and CRCA and is currently working at inSite on their video archive. Her interests include the interplay of technology, gender, sex, desire and resistance. Micha is a transgender, genderqueer media artist, theorist and trouble maker. Micha is a founding member of a number of art/activism collectives including Sharing Is Sexy, the borderlands Hacklab and the City Heights Free Skool. Micha is the performer and technical and artistic director of Becoming Dragon.

Kael Greco is an M.F.A candidate and researcher at CalIT2 at UCSD. His research focuses on space and its representation through computation; how cities, territories, landforms are processed and understood as datasets. Kael’s work has been exhibited across the country, from gallery shows in NYC (most recently at Apex Art) to technology conferences in Southern CA (a featured exhibitor in the 2007 O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference). His work has also been seen in publications such as Engadget and Glowlab. Kael Greco holds Bachelor Degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics and Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kael has ported the stereoscopic code for Becoming Dragon.

Christopher Head is a software artist and MFA student at the University of California San Diego. Much of his work focuses on the intersection of software design and art practice to produce projects that take a variety of forms including computer visualization, simulation, games, and hardware hacking. Christopher received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Jose State University while working in the CADRE Laboratory for New Media. While at SJSU he also participated in the ISEA2006/ZeroOne festival as part of the Montalvo Arts Center visiting artist residency with Antoni Muntadas as well as a series of exhibitions and shows within the SJSU Art Department. Christopher has written the motion capture code for Becoming Dragon.

Benjamin Lotan received his BS in cognitive science from the University of California at San Diego in 2008 specializing in Human Computer Interaction. His past research has been supported by Calit2, CRCA, and the Embodied Cognition Lab. He now works as an interaction designer and documentary filmmaker in San Diego. Benjamin is working on documentation for Becoming Dragon.

Anna Storelli is an Undergraduate in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California San Diego. She studies a broad spectrum from computer technology to film and video to traditional studio art, while exploring the intermixing of traditional mediums with digital media. She worked as a graphic artist for an interactive flash-based website,, in partnership with Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Now she does production work for Warner Brothers Entertainment Co., DC Comics, assisting all aspects of pre-press preparation for the Wildstorm/CMX comic lines. She plans to finish her degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts by 2010. Anna is working on 3D modeling and 3D printing for Becoming Dragon.

See the performance in Second Life here:

Read Micha’s live blogging from Second Life during the performance at:

Hours and Location:
CRCA, Atkinson Hall, Room 1613
Hours: 11am-7pm, Opening Dec. 1, 2008, 7pm,
Continuing for 365 hours, roughly 3 weeks

First Floor, Atkinson Hall
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
Map & Directions:

Read more at:



Welcome to Second Loop

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan

“[T]he mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body-image” – Jacques Lacan

Hi. I’m Azdel Slade. I wanted to call this blog dreams of life, but it was taken. In a way, Second Life is a lot like a dream, an expression of desires and fears, of the unconscious. It is also in a lot of ways like a nightmare. And, the way we see ourselves in our dreams, in both senses of sleeptime dreams and hopes and dreams, effects how we shape ourselves. I’ll be writing here about my explorations in Second Life. There will be writing on lots of different topics such as identity, avatars, economics, politics, gender, sex. Why here? When I started thinking about blogging about SL, I quickly realized that I don’t necessarily want my avatar tied to my RL identity, at least not yet. I still want to be able to play “in world” and write about it here without everyone knowing all about my RL. You might have figured out who I am, but maybe you can keep it to yourself for a bit while I use this space for writing and experimenting.

What happens after Macluhan’s quote, where our tools shape us? What happens in the feedback loop where we shape our tools and our tools shape us and then we shape our tools again? Or when we shape our avatars and our avatars shape us and we keep shaping our avatars? What does Second Life do to us? Lacan wrote about the Mirror Stage, which he claimed was an important part of subjectivity itself. Basically the idea is that a baby sees itself in a mirror, being held up by its parents, and imagines that it knows how to walk. Then, when it tries to walk, it fails, but it continues to hold that image of itself in its head and work towards it. Can avatars work like that? Can constructions of imagined social structures work like that?

Is SL merely escapism? Or is it an experiment that might lead to more freedom? Is it just a bad copy of the worst parts of the “real” world, sexism, western beauty standards, racism, exclusion? Or is it a possible place to work out how we might envision the world we want to see? To practice constructing utopias? How can we understand identity as a feedback loop, as a social process of an individual act, a response from the other and reflection on that response which gets incorporated into the next act.

I’ll be writing more on this blog as I go. I’ve only been “in world” for a few months and have only really begun to learn how to use it well enough to enjoy it for a few weeks. But here are some initial notes I jotted down recently:

When I first told my housemates, and activist friends, about my idea to use SL to make art, they said “why in SL?”, and went on to say how SL is just for rich white yuppies. which made me wonder, who really is using second life? Now i think its more a mix of people who are looking for social stimulation but find it hard to get in real life, young people, geeks, queer people, disabled people. I’m sure there are others there, but i suspect that a lot of the people in sl are people who are targetsof some kind off discrimination in rl (real life). i surely fit into that category. in a metafilter post, a lot of the othered social categories and the animosity towards them was summed up in this comment:

People still use Second Life?

Serveral hundred overcredulous tech journalists, Warren Ellis, assorted furries, trannies, and S&M enthusiasts and him off of Boing Boing. ”

Also, the stats that Linden Labs publish show that US users are only about 25% of people on SL and there are people from many, many other countries outside of the US.

When I first bought a furry avatar, i still had to choose male or female, they are still totally gendered… This brought me to thinking about the limits of gender. Does gender have to contain some reference to male and female? Or just to characteristics that people usually consider male or female? How can we imagine new genders?

My first time having sex in sl involved me flirting with a woman av who seemed to imply that she was no expert at sex in sl, but when we went to her place, she owned a bed, tons of poseballs (none for sex, actually, most for cuddling and kissing) and after hanging out for a bit she “discovered” that she had an s&m cross and a whip. a few days later when i learned to look at profiles, i found that she’s part of about 10 s&m groups and has places like lesbian sex clubs in her list of favorite places in her profile.

Politics in SL are bubbling about prim limits, which may infringe on number of prims in your avatar, licensing and land usage. one article said something like “you can take my land before you take my [designer name here] shoes!” SL dissention and the SL liberation army are very active right now. also, someone supposedly hacked the SL atm system, but i’m not sure what the ramifications were.


Visit the performance space in SL

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